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Invasive Emerald Ash Borer Found in Berkshires

In the Berkshire County town of Dalton, state officials announced the first confirmed detection of an invasive insect in Massachusetts. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports...

Officials with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and the state Department of Agricultural Resources announced in Dalton that the Emerald ash borer has been detected in the Commonwealth. DCR Commissioner Ed Lambert…

The small, green insect native to Asia was first discovered in the United States in 2002 near Detroit, Michigan. The specimen collected in Dalton is the only example found in Massachusetts. The beetle, which is small enough to fit seven of its kind on a single penny, was discovered in a purple-colored sticky trap off Kirchner Road. Nicknamed “Barney traps”, the DCR had placed 713 throughout Massachusetts – all West of the Connecticut river, with 325 in Berkshire County alone. The DCR asks all Massachusetts residents to report any signs or sightings of the insect.

Because this is the first occurrence of the beetle in Massachusetts, state and federal officials are unsure of exactly where the beetle entered the state from. The animal can easily be transported by humans in firewood. Nate Seigert, of the US Forest Service, and expert on Emerald ash borers showed the audience at the announcement a map of the area where the insect was discovered, as he announced that the US Forest Service would begin surveying the area.

Patty Douglass of the US Department of Agriculture also attended the meeting. She said that the Federal government is not surprised to see the insect reach Massachusetts. The Commonwealth is now the 18th in the country to show signs of the pest. Douglass said that while state and federal quarantines could be put in effect, the federal government will begin keeping watch of Berkshire County.

Douglass said the efforts to control the Emerald ash borer will be to “slow the spread”, as opposed to eradication. Trees in Massachusetts have been removed in the past after the discovery of the Asian Longhorn Beetle, another invasive species.

The DCR will maintain a ban on transporting firewood into state parks and forests.

The Emerald ash borer feeds on ash trees, which are of significant economic value in Massachusetts. The heavy, dense hardwood is used for building furniture and home fixtures, baseball bats, and firewood. In addition to impacting the multi-million dollar wood products industry in Berkshire County, ash trees used in urban environments are also at risk.

Officials said once a tree is infested with the insect it can take 3 to 5 years for the tree to die.

The insect was first discovered in New York state in 2009, and in Connecticut this summer.

To learn more about the insect, Massachusetts residents can visit this website or call the tollfree EAB hotline at 1-866-322-4512.

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